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Business Highlights

January 22, 2019

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Stocks sink on growth fears and possible snag in trade talks

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks took a steep loss, ending a four-day winning streak, after the International Monetary Fund cut its annual growth forecast for the global economy. The IMF said the world economy faces risks including trade tensions and rising interest rates. Investors also worried about the state of US-China trade talks after the Financial Times reported that the Trump administration canceled a round of negotiations ahead of a major meeting next week. Industrial, technology and energy stocks fell.

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US home sales plummeted 6.4 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales cratered in December, causing price growth to slip to the lowest level in nearly six years as the housing sector ended 2018 on a decidedly weaker note. The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes plunged 6.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million last month.

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Pelosi works her health care strategy from the ground up

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is laying out her strategy on health care and first up is improvements to “Obamacare” and legislation to lower prescription drug costs. Hearings on “Medicare for all” will follow. Pelosi and President Donald Trump have been sounding similar themes about the need to address high drug costs. Democrats believe voters gave them a mandate on health care in the midterm elections that returned the House to their control.

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Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

Gunmakers and dealers are gathering this week in Las Vegas for the industry’s largest annual conference. Last year, the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade, or SHOT Show, was subdued. And gunmaker Gary Ramey is expecting the same this year. The gun industry has been grappling with slumping sales and a shift in politics. Ramey says a gun-friendly Donald Trump means, “There was no one to beat up.”

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40 years after his “folly,” Bogle’s index funds reign

NEW YORK (AP) — Forty years ago, the thought of buying an index fund and being satisfied with getting simply the market’s return was ridiculed by critics. Next year, for the first time, U.S. stock index funds will likely have more in cash than actively managed funds. Initially derided as “Bogle’s folly,” index funds have become the default way to invest for so many people that critics now worry about unintended, market-distorting effects that could ultimately arise and hurt investors and society.

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Google self-driving spinoff Waymo to put factory in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Google’s self-driving car spinoff Waymo says it will bring a factory to Michigan, creating up to 400 jobs at what it describes as the world’s first plant dedicated “100 percent” to the mass production of autonomous vehicles that can operate without human input in most conditions. The company plans to spend about $13.6 million to retrofit a to-be-determined manufacturing facility in the Detroit area. The plan could open in the middle of this year.

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Brexit battle looms as UK lawmakers attack May’s ‘Plan B’

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May is determined to get a tweaked version of her rejected European Union divorce deal through Parliament. British lawmakers have other ideas — lots of other ideas. May’s Conservative government is headed for a showdown with Parliament next week, when lawmakers get to vote on the prime minister’s latest proposal, and can try to amend it to send her in another direction.

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Merck to ship 120,000 more Ebola vaccine doses

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Drugmaker Merck says it will ship another approximately 120,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to Congo by the end of next month amid the second deadliest outbreak in history. Associate Vice President Lydia Ogden told the World Economic Forum that the company is committed to having a ready stockpile of 300,000 doses and already has shipped 100,000 to the World Health Organization.

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Lebanon rating downgraded on default risks

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s finance minister says a report by Moody’s Investors Service that downgraded the country’s long-term investment ratings reflect the need for quickly forming a new government and implement financial reform. Ali Hassan Khalil’s tweet on Tuesday came hours after Moody’s downgraded the Lebanon’s issuer ratings to Caa1 from B3. The outlook was changed to stable from negative.

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The S&P 500 index lost 37.81 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,632.90. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 301.87 points, or 1.2 percent, to 24,404.48. The Nasdaq composite fell 136.87 points, or 1.9 percent, to 7,020.36. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 25.05 points, or 1.7 percent, to 1,457.45

U.S. crude lost 2.3 percent to $52.57 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 2 percent to $61.50 a barrel in London. Natural gas dropped 12.7 percent to $3.04 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell 3.5 percent to $1.40 a gallon and heating oil lost 0.8 percent to $1.90 a gallon.

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